Contradiction of Arms
Mac Sweeney Arms: Confusion and Contradiction
A blank shield of arms in an ancient ledger (labelled: "Knights Dubbed in the 16th Century") in the Office of Chief Herald of Ireland testifies that Maolmhuire/ Sir Myles Mac Sweeney, Chief of Doe, 1596-1630, spurned a grant of English arms. Furthermore, there is no evidence that any Mac Sweeney lord of Donegal sought or accepted a coat of arms from the English.  Consequently, there are no arms of Fanad, Doe or Banagh, i.e.,  no "territorial arms of the Mac Suibhne lordships of Fanad, Doe or Banagh" as alleged.  Our Mac Sweeney ancestors had "the same contempt for English arms as they had for the English" and it's an insult to their memory to pretend otherwise.

Mac Sweeney Arms, dating from 1267 are recorded in Burke's General Armoury, however, Burke failed to provide sources or references for such arms and a thorough examination of Irish State records, in the 19th century, confirmed that no Irish Chieftain or gentleman had arms prior to the mid. 14th century.

The O Donnells, overlords of Donegal, did not obtain a grant of arms until Sir Aodh O Donnell, father of Red Hugh, married, c.1570, "An Iníon Dubh" (= the dark daughter) of James Mac Donnell of the Isles. The hand and cross in O Donnell arms, left, are believed to have been modelled on "An Iníon Dubh's" (Mac Donnell)  family arms, lower left.  Our Mac Sweeney ancestors did not receive a grant of arms (from the English) three hundred years before the O Donnells.  

An essay, posted on the web, entitled "The Sweeney Clan Crests" (sic), stated that there were Heraldic Offices in Belfast and Dublin "at least 800 years ago", i.e., at a time when Belfast was a fishing village at the mouth of the river Lagan and Dublin was ruled by Vikings - the last Viking ruler of Dublin, Askulv, was slain 1172.   Arms of Mac Sweeney Fanad (sic), illustrated in the same essay, include a charge/ symbol not used in heraldry (the lizard is shown in plan view, spread-eagled) and cannot be regarded as arms.

The Office of Chief Herald of Ireland, based in Dublin, is the authority on all heraldic matters relating to Ireland and is the oldest Office of State - website: The National Library of Ireland. The following questions, re Mac Sweeney arms, were addressed to the Office, 2 Kildare Street, Dublin 2.  The reply, dated July 13, 2001, was signed by Mr Fergus Gillespie, (Deputy Chief Herald of Ireland, 2001) now Chief Herald of Ireland.

Q.1. Has the author of the essay "The Sweeney Clan Crests" confused crests with arms?
Answer. The author has strangely enough, confused crests with arms.  A shield of arms is not a crest.  A crest is that part of an achievement of arms which is attached to the helmet.  It is found above and resting on the shield.

Q.2. When were Heraldic Offices established?
Answer. The Irish Heraldic Office was constituted in 1552.  The Registry of arms of the Scottish Office can be dated only to the late 16th century. The Lyon Office, too, dates from that time.

Q. 3. The first officially recorded arms of the Mac Sweeneys were borne by Murragh Mac Sweeney, died 1267.  Correct or incorrect?
Answer. Incorrect.

Q.4. Murragh Mac Sweeney's arms are recorded thus: Murragh Mac Sweeney, Chieftain 1267, Reg. Ulster Office, "Argent a lion in Chief and a boar both passant gules." Correct or incorrect?     
Answer.  Incorrect.

Q.5. Can arms be informally registered?
Answer. Arms are never informally registered.  Arms can only be borne by the law of arms and must be formally registered by an offficer appointed by the State to do so.

Q.6. Is there a difference between a chameleon and a lizard?
Answer.  Not every lizard is a chameleon. A chameleon is a tree dwelling lizard. It is not found in any Mac Sweeney arms.
Microsoft Photo Editor 3.0 Photo   

Arms of Mac Sweeney Doe
Arms alleged to be (a) the arms of Doe (b) the arms of Dónal Gorm Mac Sweeney of Donegal, 1638, were erected over a doorway at Doe Castle in the late 1970's by a Sweeney Clan Association.
Arms erected over a doorway at Doe Castle by a Sweeney Clan Association in the late 1970's.

Q.7. Are the arms erected at Doe Castle the arms of Doe?  Answer. No.

Q.8.  Are the arms erected at Doe Castle the arms of Donal Gorm Mac Sweeney of Donegal,1638?    Answer. No.

Arms also alleged to be the arms of Doe are portrayed on the cover of a book published 1997 by the present Sweeney Clan Association as "the territorial arms of the Mac Suibhne lordship of na dTuatha" (i,e., the arms of Doe).            
            Arms published 1997 by the present Sweeney Clan Association as the territorial arms of the Mac Suibhne lordship of na dTuatha (i.e., the arms of Doe).                                                    

Q.9. Are the arms the arms of na dTuatha (= Doe)?    Answer.  No.                                 .
        Photograph showing arms alleged to be the arms of Doe/ arms of Donal Gorm Mac Sweeney of Donegal, 1638, erected over a doorway in Doe Castle, late 1970's, by a Sweeney Clan  Association.

Q. 10. It is alleged that the arms erected over a doorway in Doe Castle in the late 1970's  were researched by a Sweeney Clan Association and by the Chief Herald of the day, John Mac Carthy.  Was there ever a Chief Herald of Ireland named John Mac Carthy?
Answer.  No.

Microsoft Photo Editor 3.0 Photo

Arms of Mac Sweeney Banagh.
Arms alleged to be "the territorial arms of the Mac Suibhne lordship of Banagh" (i.e., the arms of Banagh) are portrayed on the cover of a book published 1997 by the present Sweeney Clan Association.  The same arms were erected in the late 1970's, by a Sweeney Clan Association, alongside the 16th century graveslab of Niall Mór Mac Sweeney, Chief of Banagh, at the west door of the R.C. Church in Killybegs.
     
                          
Left: arms pub.1997 as arms of Banagh.   Rt. Photograph showing arms erected (by a Sweeney Clan Assoc.) at the west door of Killybegs R.C. Church alongside the 16th century graveslab of Niall Mór Mac Sweeney, Chief of Banagh (died 1524).  

(Niall Mór's graveslab is shown on the "Genealogical Table of the Mac Sweeneys of Doe" web page on the Sweeney Doe Clan web site:   Index Page of Sweeney - The Descendants of Doe )

Q.11. Are the arms erected at Killybegs the arms of Banagh.   
 Answer. No.

Comment. The arms erected at the west door of Killybegs R.C. Church in the late 1970's, by a Sweeney Clan Association and  published 1997 by the present Sweeney Clan Association as "the territorial arms of the Mac Suibhne lordship of Banagh" (i.e., the arms of Banagh) are arms granted, Dec. 20, 1961, by the Chief Herald of Ireland to Dr. John Patrick Sweeney, Prince Edward Island, Canada.  

Q. 12.  Are Dr. John Patrick Sweeney's arms "the teritorial arms of the Mac Suibhne lordship of Banagh" (i.e., the arms of Banagh) as alleged?    
Answer. No, they are not.

Microsoft Photo Editor 3.0 Photo

Arms of Mac Sweeney Fanad.
Arms alleged to be the arms of Mac Sweeney Fanad are described thus: "Or, on fess vert between three boars passant sable, a lizard argent".

Q. 13. Correct or incorrect?        Answer. Incorrect.  

                               Arms of Fanad?                                   Arms of Fanad?

Comment.  Arms with the lizard in plan view (a symbol not used in heraldry) carved in stone by a Sweeney Clan Association, in the late 1970's, are exhibited in the Flight of the Earls' Centre, Rathmullan, Co. Donegal.  The arms are portrayed on the cover of a book published 1997 by the present Sweeney Clan Association as "the territorial arms of the Mac Suibhne lordship of Fanad", i.e., the arms of Fanad.

Q. 14. Does the Office of Chief Herald of Ireland portray charges on arms (eg. a lizard)  in plan view?        Answer. No
Q. 15.  Are the arms the arms of Fanad?   Answer.  No.

Q. 16.  Did the Office of Chief Herald of Ireland ever issue any document stating that the arms described/ illustrated above were the arms of Doe, Banagh or Fanad?     Answer. No.
                                                                                  Amended November 8, 2003